Can Cats Eat Potatoes? Does your feline friend need it? Keep in mind that your feline companion is a carnivore by nature. Its ancestors evolved by eating only meat. As hunters in the wild, they certainly did not evolve by eating the refined processed foods we see today.
However, in the days of domestication, it is usually okay to feed your cat something that isn’t meat, such as certain fruits and vegetables. But do you know what foods cats are allowed to eat?
For example, can cats eat mashed potatoes leftover from your evening meal?
Can cats eat fries from your last fast food trip?
While many cat owners don’t feed their cats any human foods at all, it’s okay to give your feline companion a small snack of potato every now and then. But there are some important considerations to keep in mind.
Can cats eat potatoes?
A potato is a type of root vegetable. It is actually a leading world crop and is ranled number 4 worldwide.
Potatoes come in many varieties, including white, purple, gold, and sweet. As a food source, potatoes are full of carbohydrates, but they do provide a fair amount of nutrients such as vitamin B6, vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, and potassium. A cup of potatoes contains:
- Vitamin C – 17 milligrams
- Vitamin B6 – 0.54 milligrams
- Potassium – 925 milligrams
- Fiber – 3.81 grams
However, like most carbohydrate-rich foods, it can be a bit too easy to indulge in potatoes too much. For people (or even cats) trying to gain weight, this can actually be a good thing. But for most of us, we need to eat potatoes in moderation to avoid unwanted health complications.
Cats can eat potatoes as long as they are given as a special treat. Some cat owners choose to mix a little potato in their cat’s regular food. This can give an extra boost to fiber and other nutrients.
Any potato you give your cat should be clean, fresh, and cooked (eg boiled or baked). The cooking process destroys certain compounds naturally occurring in potatoes that are toxic to cats and kittens.
Only give your cat a tiny amount of potato when you first feed it to your cat. Then wait and see how It reacts to it. If It’s not vomiting, has diarrhea, or is showing other symptoms, feel free to give it to your cat from time to time.
Can cats eat sweet potatoes?
Sweet potatoes contain more nutrients than white potatoes. Even more, they are considered one of the healthier potato varieties… which is true for us humans.
Sweet potatoes are generally poorly tolerated in cats. They cannot digest them properly. In fact, one source has even recognized the sweet potato plant as a poisonous plant to cats.
Will giving your cat a small bite of sweet potato puree hurt It? Not necessary. But if you decide to give It as a snack, start small and see how It reacts to the sweet potato. Again, watch for symptoms of digestive upset such as vomiting or diarrhea.
If you’re worried or if your cat has a history of food sensitivities, skip the sweet potatoes altogether. There is no real benefit to your cat from eating them and It will not miss out on any necessary nutrients by not including them in Its diet.
The Dangers of Cats Eating Potatoes
Simple starchy potatoes may seem fine for your cat across the board. But there are certain conditions under which you should definitely keep the potatoes out of her food bowl.
As mentioned, the cooking process (such as baking or boiling) destroys certain compounds found in potatoes in their raw form. One of these compounds, called glycoalkaloid solanine, is toxic to your cat. Your cat can get quite sick if It eats a raw potato.
Vegetables such as potatoes contain solanine, a poisonous substance, just like the tomatine found in tomatoes, which is not as toxic. This is why tomatoes are a nice treat for your cat too, as their toxic levels are much lower and it can be fed uncooked when fully ripe.
Raw potatoes are also chewy and hard. A piece of raw potato can easily get stuck somewhere in your cat’s digestive system and cause a stomach or intestinal blockage. It can also choke on a raw potato, as it is more difficult to chew and swallow than a cooked potato.
Bottom line: If you have raw potatoes around the house, keep them out of reach of your cat.
What about potato skins?
Potato skins, like raw potatoes, are full of glycoalkaloid solanine, which is toxic to cats. Plus, shells are covered with dirt, bacteria and pesticides that you don’t want your cat to ingest. It’s unlikely anyone would knowingly give potato skins to a cat, but you know what they say about cats and curiosity.
Your cat may nibble on the shells a bit while you prepare food or find something while rummaging through the trash can. Chances are your cat will not like the taste enough to eat enough of it and make it sick, but it is best to keep it out of reach.
Too many potatoes
The high carbohydrate content of carbohydrates can easily promote weight gain. This is because a human or cat’s body uses the carbohydrates for quick energy instead of using stored body fat.
It’s worth repeating: Every bite of potato for your cat should be a special treat. Feeding it potatoes too often can cause It to gain weight and develop weight-related health problems such as joint problems and even feline diabetes.
Pay attention to how your potatoes are prepared
Many of the ingredients we like to mix with potatoes can potentially kill your cat. This means that you should never give your cat a bite of your potatoes if they are prepared with chives, onions, or garlic.
If your potatoes are full of cheese, gravy, butter, or oil, keep the decadent dish to yourself, as the high amount of fat can cause your cat to upset stomach and intestines, such as diarrhea or vomiting.
Processed potato products such as hash browns, chips, or even French fries should also be considered a no-go for your cat. They are usually full of unhealthy ingredients such as artificial preservatives, sugar, and salt.
Conclusion: keep the Fries and mashed potatoes for yourself
You can occasionally give a small piece of boiled potato to your cat as a special treat if It seems to like it. But don’t think giving your cat potatoes is necessarily good for Its health.
Why? The potential risks when cats eat potatoes (solanine poisoning, weight gain) far outweigh the potential benefits (essentially none).
In addition, giving too much of “treats” can spoil its appetite and cause unwanted begging. Don’t get into the habit of making a treat every day, especially if the treat is food meant for people.
Also, remember that your sweet cat is a carnivore. It gets all the nutrients It needs from Its meat-based cat food. You don’t have to supplement Its diet with human food, and doing too much can do more harm than good.
So, the next time you catch your cat looking at your table scraps, try not to give in to Its adorable begging.